Tuesday, May 17, 2005

When We Dance Together

Hello folks. Bob writing from the Summer Peacebuilding Institute. Tonight is Potluck and dancing night for the students currently attending classes. The potluck was great, and after the dinner came the dancing. Everyone is dressed in the clothes of his or her country and we dance to music from every corner of the globe. In fact, it is still going on as I write at 10:00pm. It will probably take me a few of these gatherings to get me to dance, but I've been hanging out and watching with a surprising sense of delight. I find myself thinking, "there is hope for us."

Imagine a room of people from all over the world, each from a unique culture, a unique place. In this space we are people with different native tongues, different ways of seeing, different faiths. In the places we call home, there is racism, poverty, oppression, injustice, war and horror. And here, tonight, there is none of that. There is only laughter, music, and the joy of being together.

Imagine that. I know this kind of picture is not the world's reality. Much of the world would see this picture as sentimental and unrealistic. But tonight, in this space, this is how it is.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Conflict Transformation

Hi folks-- Bob here. The courses I'm taking at Eastern Mennonite University are radical and life-affirming. As a therapist, I often think of approaching trauma or conflict from a technical or clinical perspective. "What should I do?" "What techniques are best applied here?" Or even, "How can I help?" On the surface of it, there is nothing wrong with these questions, and much right about them. However, they often are out of sync, that is, offered at the wrong time, or without regard to a larger context.

One thing I am learning is that conflict transformation first requires us to simply be. Before I jump to, "What's the nature of the conflict or trauma and how can I fix it or apply the appropriate techniques"-- before I even respond to it, I must be centered within myself. Who am I in the presence of this conflict or trauma, and how can I maintain myself and be who I am made to be. Conflict transformation requires a certain inner stillness and openness to receive and be with others. This work-- peacebuilding-- is much more about attitude of heart and the spirit of the approach than the content of the approach or the choice of therapeutic modalities. It is not first what we do that brings peace, but who we are. To bring peace, we must embody peace. We must be peace.

Friday, May 13, 2005


Bob Reed here. Life at Eastern Mennonite University has a definite rhythm that I'm adjusting to. If fact I need the rythm because because it is something I can hold as familiar in a place where so much is different. There are 99 students here from 35 countries-- countries in significant turmoil. I am one of the few Americans, and I think I have less experience in the kind of work I want to do than anyone here. But everyday we hold classes from 8:30am to 5:00pm. Everyday, I see the same 15 faces. And even though they are from Syria, and Palestine, and Israel, and Iraq, and Nepal, and Bangeldesh, and Lesotho, and Australia via Colombia, I feel like I'm getting into the groove of being here. I still don't mingle much. I'm pushing myself to mingle more. I don't do introductory chat well, but it is necessary so some.

I miss the family. They are in Grand Rapids organizing and preparing-- an enormous task. Soon, Renita and the kids will be writing, and that will add spice to the spin.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

May 11, 2005

Hi folks. Bob Reed here. Welcome to our first post as we prepare for our move to Liberia, West Africa. We will be working with the support of friends and family, and the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, or CRWRC. In Liberia we will be join Liberians in rebuilding their country after 15 years of civil war. More on Liberia in an upcoming post.

We intend to us this site as a place where we can regularly update you with the current events of our lives as we go about our business in Liberia, as well as give you a place to respond and interact. We of course will be using email as well, but this blog is an ongoing journal of sorts, and each of the Reeds will feel free to use it to observe, celebrate, complain, spin, and give you an inner glimpse of life from our persperctive across the waves. We'll also post pics from time to time.

Currently, I am in Virginia attending courses at Eastern Mennonite University. The courses are about trauma and conflict transformation on individual, group and societal levels. I love it, but it keeps me far away from Renita and the kids. I know they are busy in Grand Rapids, because that's where the real preparations are happening. Selling a home, belongings, transitioning out of two ministries that we each helped start, all takes work.

Smile, you knuckleheads!